Vivez Bien * Live Well

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

The Gen on Gin



We have just come back from a relaxing week in Hermanus with 2 of our boys where we did some fun stuff for them and then rewarded ourselves with some fun stuff for us like wine tasting, craft beer and gin tasting. I hadn't been gin tasting before. It was an interesting experience. It was recommended that I try the gin neat first, I won't do that again in a hurry - it was like drinking fire water! Although I have just started watching the TV series "The Durrells" and Mrs Durrell drank neat gin from a bone china teacup. She needed it though, with 4 unmanageable children! I have 4 children too... maybe I need to give it another try.

Gin definitely seems to be the drink of the moment. I'm not complaining... there is nothing quite like a lunchtime gin and tonic sitting in the sun with a beautiful view.  I was in the Knysna area recently and ordered a G&T at the Brenton Blu Hotel. It came in a beautiful glass like a cross between a wine glass and a brandy snifter.


 My sister, who is more hip and happening than I, tells me this is the new way of drinking gin. It also came with just one ice cube, very large and round, bigger than a golf ball. 


I thought it looked absolutely beautiful and I was tempted to rush out and buy myself some of these special  ice-trays, but then when I tilted my glass for the final sip of my gin, the ice ball cracked the side of the glass! So if you get some of these, make sure your glasses are up to the challenge.

While not strictly gin, I recently discovered the best thing to come out of South Africa since Nelson Mandela! The Duchess Virgin Gin and Tonic. I have introduced it to all my friends so now it's time  to share my discovery with the rest of the world.


It has no alcohol content and ... wait for it ... zero calories! It tastes so like gin and tonic that you have to keep reminding yourself that you are not drinking alcohol. It's the perfect lunch time or sundowner drink if you have to drive home afterwards, or if you need to be productive post drinks, or if you are trying to restrict your calorie intake, or just because it tastes delicious. BTW, the folks at Duchess are not paying me for this, but they really should because I am doing a great selling job! Although my one friend, Jacqui, after tasting hers, said " Mmmmm, very nice, if I could  just add a bit of gin, it would be perfect!"


It should ideally be poured into a glass with some ice and lemon, or whatever else you like to accompany your G & T, but since the packaging is so elegant, you would be forgiven for taking it along on a picnic and drinking it straight out of the bottle.

The website list of stockists seem to be based only in South Africa (although there is one little marker in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean -  the Virgin Islands perhaps?)  So if you can't get The Duchess Virgin Gin & Tonic in your country, it's just another reason to visit ours!


Of course, there is nothing quite like the real thing. The local gin's I have tried and love are Inverroche, Hope and ClemenGold. The Inveroroche Verdant is my favourite. It has a delicate floral, herbal flavour that is very appealing. I'm not so keen on the Rooibos one.  I've only tried the Hope Salt River Gin which I really like, still need to try the others, and the ClemenGold had me with the packaging, so pretty, and the gin with its citrus and cinnamon undertones, is delicious. If there are any other distilleries out there, let me know. I'm always happy to have a reason to try a new gin!


Of course when you are serving gin or drinks to your guests, a beautifully styled drinks tray or bar trolley will be much appreciated. A least, by people like me (PLM's). My husband probably wouldn't notice. 


I love this artful arrangement that NetDecor  recently brought to our attention. You can shop here  to acquire all the bits and pieces to put this together. 

Depending on your style and taste, here are some other ideas to inspire you. You could go for an abundant and opulent look like these....






...or for something simple and stylish.





Maybe a beachy look for the summer months....




...or something more tropical for outdoor entertaining.



A male dominated get together might require a more masculine feel...



...and traditionalists will probably want to use decanters and crystal.



A tiered bar cart is useful if space is tight.



Whatever your style...
your guests will appreciate the extra mile...


Happy entertaining!

Till next time

Sharon x


Images via Pinterest



Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Rainy Day Ramblings



We have battened down our hatches here during the worst storm Cape Town has seen in 30 years.

Photo via News 24

 Schools and universities have closed for the day and given that my boys are all writing exams, I'm pleased to report that they are using the unexpected free day in the most productive way! 



Since I'm going nowhere today, it seems like a good opportunity to escape from the real world for a little while and become immersed in some beautiful interiors instead. Two homes really caught my eye and I thought I should show them to you too as you might also be looking for an escape on a rainy day. 


The first is in the Karoo, near Barrydale and is owned by a former director of Woolworths who wanted to escape the rat race and is leading what seems like an idyllic existence on his farm. 

It is a large house, simply designed with 4 bedrooms and bathrooms and an enormous sitting room and kitchen.





Everything used in the construction was made locally and the effect is that the house completely blends into its surrounding landscape. 


The plaster is a mixture of mud and lime giving it the distinctive ochre shade.


Old Oregon pine doors and windows were all salvaged from demolished buildings in the Karoo area. The floors are made of polished cement which keep the house cool in the hot Karoo summer.



While I am definitely not wishing the rain away as we need it so badly, I am imagining lounging in that sunny spot right there!

The second home belongs to architect, Simon McCullagh. Tucked away in a quite cul de sac in Constantia, surrounded by oak trees and next to a greenbelt, you could imagine you are living in the countryside.


The house is designed as a modern version of an old cape barn.



I love the double volume living area with exposed trusses and thatch roof.



The dining area is so appealing with the large table and flow out into the garden - perfect for a good lunch or dinner party.


The home is furnished and fitted with a good mix of old and new.




I also love the simple design of the pool surrounded by lush lawn.

So there you go - hope you enjoyed.

If you're in Cape Town and surrounds, please stay warm and safe.

Till next time

Sharon x

Images via here and here